David Kirkpatrick

August 24, 2010

Summer reading — Andrew Vachss

Filed under: Arts, Media — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 9:52 pm

After three books this past week I’m once again reminded why Andrew Vachss is one of my favorite authors. Now that list is very long and varied, but Vachss is pretty high on my list for brilliant writing, great characters, deft plotting and just fun reading. If you’ve never read anything of his I recommend starting with the beginning of the Burke series, “Flood.” If you’re familiar with his work, but haven’t checked out anything outside the Burke books go for “Two Trains Running.”

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Readability

Filed under: et.al., Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:34 pm

No, no the kind of readability that describes a well-turned phrase, but instead a JavaScript you put in your bookmarks (ideally a bookmark bar for ease of use) that turns a jumbled web page into a simple, clean interface to the main content on that site. You can even ratchet up the font size to make reading easier on the eyes if need be.

I use Readability regularly and heartily recommend this free online tool. Next time you’re faced with a page full of ads, menus, tables and who knows what else, you’ll be happy a clean, easy-to-read page is mere click of a bookmark away. Readability is an arc90 laboratory experiment.

From the link:

Readability™ is a simple tool that makes reading on the Web more enjoyable by removing the clutter around what you’re reading.

This is where tablet e-readers can really shine

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:39 am

Via KurzweilAI.net — Textbooks!

From the link:

Replacing a Pile of Textbooks With an iPad

August 24, 2010

Source: New York Times — Aug 23, 2010

A new company called Inkling hopes to break the standard textbook model and help textbooks enter the interactive age by letting students share and comment on the texts and interact with fellow students, using an iPad.

Other features include interactive graphics within a book and the ability to search text, change the size of the type, purchase individual chapters of books, highlight text for others to see, and take pop quizzes directly within the app.

Photo: Inkling

Read original article

August 23, 2010

The death of print

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:57 am

Wired‘s Chris Anderson has revised his prediction on electronic versus print delivery of content. Two years ago he said ink-on-paper would be the main delivery mechanism for magazines.

From the link, here he is this year:

In light of these developments, I emailed Anderson to ask whether or not he’d like to revise his estimate for the death of print.

He said, perhaps not surprisingly, that he now believes that within a decade most reading will be done on e-readers and tablets.

“I still think that ten years from now we’ll still have lots of print magazines, along with lots of print books, and they will be more-or-less like they are now. What I’ve changed my mind about is what fraction of the market they will be. E-readers, from tablets to smart phones, have matured faster than I thought they would back in 2008.”

That predictions for the “death of print” changed so drastically in the span of just two years tells us something about where we are on the hype and/or adoption curve of e-readers and their ilk.

Which is to say: we are coming up on an inflection point, beyond which rates of adoption explode, feedbacks and network effects kick in, and total market penetration becomes inevitable.

This is an interesting ongoing conversation. A conversation newspapers pooh-poohed to their great detriment. I love print. I read a novel last night on print, not on an e-reader. I love magazines and I love newspapers. But even though I held a book in my hands yesterday evening, right now all my magazine subscriptions have lapsed — down from a high of around 15 or so a number of years ago — and I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal online and have for years. I let my local paper subscription go several years ago when the total page count dwindled to almost nothing while the price rose almost monthly. Plus I realized I had already digested almost all the news and op-ed pieces long before the paper arrived on my doorstep.

So as much as I love print and physically holding, smelling and interacting with books, magazines and newspapers, the reality is I do almost all my considerable daily reading online now, and have for many years. The effective death of print might actually come to pass — maybe sooner than later.

August 20, 2010

Friday video fun — “AT-AT DAY AFTERNOON”

Filed under: Arts, et.al., Media — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:12 pm

I know this one has made the rounds for a while now, but it’s too cool to pass up forever. Plus I haven’t done a “video fun” post in a while.

(Hat tip for pushing me to posting: Michael Brower)

Don’t piss off a writer

Filed under: Arts, et.al., Media — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:58 pm

Especially if they work in television.

Tread lightly honorable blog reader or, er, well, you know.

From the link:

After several seasons of disappointing reviews, writers on the USA network’s mystery series “Psych” decided to get revenge. They crafted an episode involving a psychotic killer doctor. The deranged murderer’s name? Ken Tucker, who in real life is the mild-mannered, 57-year-old TV critic for Entertainment Weekly magazine.

“It was never ‘Dr. Tucker’ or just ‘Ken.’ It was always ‘Did Ken Tucker eviscerate the body?'” says USA original programming chief Jeff Wachtel.

Hell hath no fury like a TV writer scorned.

And:

The practice isn’t all puerile payback. A sharp pen and the threat of an unappealing storyline can help TV writers keep a production—and the egos involved—in check. In popular imagination, Hollywood is a place where luminous actors reign supreme and the brains behind the operation are secondary.

In reality, crossing a TV writer is “suicide,” says actor Ed O’Neill, who played sad-sack dad Al Bundy on “Married with Children” and now plays the patriarch on “Modern Family.” “I’ve heard many stories of someone getting brutally murdered on a show because they insisted on a bigger trailer,” he says.

August 19, 2010

Google’s Eric Schmidt is losing his mind

Filed under: Business, Media, Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:28 pm

What’s the deal with CEOs of big name internet companies going off the rails? Here’s Yahoo’s Carol Bartz from back in May, and now Google’s Eric Schmidt has made an increasing series of completely ridiculous statements culminating (for now) with this doozy. I hope this was said tongue-in-cheek and didn’t translate to the printed word. For some reason I doubt it. Do no evil, indeed.

From the second link:

Google (GOOG) is often accused of behaving like Big Brother, and Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt isn’t doing much to dispel those perceptions. In fact, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Schmidt dropped an interesting — and frightening — tidbit: perhaps people should change their names upon reaching adulthood to eradicate the potentially reputation-damaging search records Google keeps.

“‘I don’t believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time,’ [Schmidt] says. He predicts, apparently seriously, that every young person one day will be entitled automatically to change his or her name on reaching adulthood in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends’ social media sites,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Thoughts on the “internet kill switch” …

from Paul Kocher, CEO of Cryptography Research.

Here’s part of the intro, hit the link for Kocher’s thoughts:

That’s what activists are saying is one potential outcome of the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act. The so-called “Internet Kill Switch” is not actually an outcome of that bill, by the way – some commentators have compared this meme to the “death panels” myth that almost derailed the healthcare bill.

But the fact remains that the president has broad power under the 1934 Telecommunications Act to restrict “wire communications” during a time of war – and that includes the Internet. So even under existing laws, an off switch for the United States’ most important information conduit is, in theory at least, only one over-eager lawmaker in chief away from reality.

Paul Kocher, current CEO of Cryptography Research, is a legend in the field of security – one of the engineers behind SSL 3.0 and an innovator in a host of other areas. Recently I interviewed him on the subject; here’s what he had to say about the so-called “Internet Kill Switch.”

August 18, 2010

Social networking advertising tops $1.5B

And not surprisingly Facebook is getting half of the $1.68 billion in social media/web 2.0 advertising forecasted for 2010. Facebook offers a very attractive advertising model in terms of very granular audience targeting coupled with a flexible set of criteria for creating an ad campaign. Expect to see more advertising dollars going into social networking in the future, particularly if it proves out to be very effective.

From the link:

Just after Facebook hit 500 million users last month, some analysts increased their 2010 forecasts for spending on social media advertising.

U.S. advertising is expected to increase 20% over last year to $1.68 billion, up from December’s forecast of $1.3 billion, according to a study by digital research group EMarketer.

“That’s primarily due to the strong performance of Facebook and somewhat due to the fact that we started adding Twitter to our analysis,” said Debra Aho Williamson, an analyst.

The study, conducted every six months, also measures sites such as MySpace, LinkedIn and Classmates.com as well as popular sites in China, Japan and Russia for worldwide figures.

Half of that $1.68 billion spent by U.S. advertisers will go to Facebook, according to the study. By 2011, advertisers will spend $1.06 billion on the San Francisco company — a 112% increase from 2009.

The long arm of the internet reaches 5B devices

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:28 pm

Yes, that header is correct — this month will see the five billionth device connected to the world via the internet Something to think about there. From the early days of ARPANET up to today’s World Wide Web full of commercialization, social media, viral video and everything else you can track down in the online world, human communication has gone through an honest revolution. A revolution I doubt very many of us would want to see rolled back.

From the first link:

Sometime this month, the 5 billionth device will plug into the Internet. And in 10 years, that number will grow by more than a factor of four, according to IMS Research, which tracks the installed base of equipment that can access the Internet.

On the surface, this second tidal wave of growth will be driven by cell phones and new classes of consumer electronics, according to an IMS statement. But an even bigger driver will be largely invisible: machine-to-machine communications in various kinds of smart grids for energy management, surveillance and public safety, traffic and parking control, and sensor networks.

Earlier this year, Cisco forecast equally steep growth rates in personal devices and overall Internet traffic. [See “Global IP traffic to increase fivefold by 2013, Cisco predicts“]

Today, there are over 1 billion computers that regularly connect to the Internet. That class of devices, including PCs and laptops and their associated networking gear, continues to grow.

August 9, 2010

Bill Gates on educating yourself online

Filed under: et.al., Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:49 pm

Via KurzweilAI.net — This sounds great, and actually does sound feasible given the sheer quantity and quality of transcripts and video of incredible lectures (TED talks, anyone?), but I do wonder if this might be the educational equivalent of representing yourself in court, you know the old, “a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.”

Bill Gates: In Five Years The Best Education Will Come From The Web

August 9, 2010

Source: TechCrunch — Aug 6, 2010

“Five years from now on the web for free you’ll be able to find the best lectures in the world,” says Bill Gates. “It will be better than any single university.”

He believes the $50,000 a year university education could be done via the web for as little as $2,00

August 6, 2010

The Singularity and rationality

Via KurzweilAI.net

Singularity and Rationality: Eliezer Yudkowsky speaks out

August 5, 2010 by Thomas McCabe

Eliezer Yudkowsky is a Research Fellow at the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence and founder of the community blog Less Wrong. We discussed his coming talk at the Singularity Summit on August 15, his forthcoming book on human rationality, his theory of “friendly AI,” and the likelihood of the Singularity and how to achieve it.

What are you working on currently?

I’m working on a book on human rationality. I’ve got… let me see… 143,000 words written so far. There’s been a lot of progress lately in fields contributing to human rationality, and it hasn’t made its way down to the popular level yet, even though it seems like something that should be popularizable. The second part of the book is on how to actually change your mind, and all the various biases that have been discovered that prevent people from changing their minds. Also, with reference to the Singularity, we’ve discovered in practice that you can’t just sit down and explain Singularity-related things to people without giving them a lot of background material first, and this book hopes to provide some of that background material.

Singularity Irrationality

What’s the most irrational thing you’ve heard regarding the Singularity?

That’s sort of a fuzzy question, because as the word “Singularity” gets looser and looser, the stuff you hear about it gets more and more irrational and less and less relevant. For example, for the people who think that the invention of hallucinogens was a Singularity… I forget who exactly that was [Terence McKenna].

The Singularity Institute once received an email saying, “This entire site is the biggest load of navel gazing stupidity I have ever seen. You are so naive, and clueless as to the inherent evil that lurks forever. A machine is no match for Satan.” I don’t know if that counts as the *most* irrational thing people have said about the Singularity, but…

In terms of what the public accepts as the Singularity, I think that the sort of more naive, “Well, people are still walking around in their biological bodies even after there are superintelligences around, and they’re just sort of being cool and futuristic but it hasn’t completely shattered life as we know it” — that sort of conservatism — may be the silliest thing. I think that’s a failure to understand superintelligence as something that becomes real and will have a real effect on the world.

(more…)

Flexible display news

Filed under: Business, Media, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:37 am

The latest step in flexible displays is looking toward large-scale production a la roll-to-roll printers (think newsprint) to get costs down. I can’t wait to see the applications of bendable displays once they become relatively cheap and innovators, inventors and artists can start playing around with the material.

From the link:

Applied Materials is trying to solve this problem–and get an early foothold in a potentially huge market–by standardizing equipment that makes flexible displays. The company, the world’s dominant maker of equipment for manufacturing computer chips and liquid-crystal displays, is developing a process that could print flexible transistor arrays that perform just as well as those on rigid substrates. That would be required if flexible displays are to be viable.

Flexible and rugged electronics with plastic displays are likely to entice consumers. Nick Colaneri, head of the Flexible Display Center at Arizona State University, points out that devices like the iPad could be bigger, and take on new functions, if they could shed their breakable glass screens. But there’s also an appeal for manufacturers. Flexible displays could cost much less to make. They could be produced on roll-to-roll machines that operate continuously at high volumes, which is more efficient than the batch methods used to make conventional electronics.

Google Wave, RIP

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:06 am

A few months and a year after announcing Google Wave, the Mountain View behemoth pulls the plug. (Note: it will remain live through the end of the year) Looks like parts of Google Wave will live on in some fashion nestled in products and indicatives to-be-named. You can find my previous blogging on Google Wave here, here and here.

From the link:

While very few of you may be shedding tears over the demise of Google Wave, or even knew what it was, we probably haven’t seen the last of this service. The search giant says the technology behind its ill-fated collaboration tool will live on in new products that have not yet been announced. Google isn’t giving any hints about what new those new products might be or how they would benefit from Wave features. But company CEO Eric Schmidt recently said the Wave team would be moving over to other products that are “like Wave but applied in some other areas,” according to a YouTube video posted by TechCrunch’s MG Siegler.

And:

Wave was also a platform for third-party developers to extend Wave’s functionality with Web-based applications. If Wave’s extensibility could be folded into the rumored Google Me that would go a long way to appeasing developers who’ve already put time and energy into developing for Wave. Extensions that might fit in with a social network could include apps for travel or event planning, games and image editing.

August 5, 2010

Environmental Graffiti

Filed under: et.al., Media — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:22 pm

I’m doing some posting at Environmental Graffiti on solar and other alternative energy sources. You can check out my first effort here. That post was built from one appearing here a couple of days ago.

July 27, 2010

One small step toward better internet content

And a giant leap for content producers (like myself, for instance.) The freelance writing world has been in crisis for a long while now, in part because of high unemployment. Anyone who’s taken freshman composition in college can suddenly declare themselves a freelance writer. The problem is you have to have clips to get work for the most part, and the easiest way to get clips is to work for nothing, or almost nothing, and go from there. Couple that dynamic with the internet’s need for content and unscrupulous business people who are more than happy to exploit people who want to write and you find a situation where companies are literally offering a penny-a-word or less for so-called SEO internet content. For writers, good luck on even finding the one-time bargain basement dollar-per-word rate for marketing communications. My current rates are down and my client list is a lot smaller than even a couple of years ago. Glad to see there’s some push back against this trend from places that might actually make a difference — search engines.

And if you’re looking at getting into freelance writing, I strongly, strongly urge you to avoid Demand Media, Suite 101, and the other content mills out there who are only going to exploit your talents, not pay you an even remotely a fair wage, and in the end leave with with clips that almost any legitimate media outlet will reject as more than worthless.

From the link:

Gabriel Weinberg, creator of upstart search engine Duck Duck Go (DDG), says that some time ago users requested that he remove from results from eHow.com. The site is owned by Demand Media, a $200 million a year “content farm” that produces 4,000 articles a day by playing freelance writers to churn out articles at bargain basement rates, based on what people are searching for and how much ads those search terms are worth.

Knowing little about the site and the discussions swirling around the quality (or lack thereof) of its content, Weinberg wasn’t moved to act on those requests until he discovered evidence that Demand Media, which owns eHow.com, was buying up domains for legitimate businesses and redirecting them to their own content.

“It pushed me over the edge,” says Weinberg.

July 22, 2010

FTC’s “hot news doctrine”

Via KurzweilAI.net —  this is the first I’ve heard of this Federal Trade Commission proposal. As you can imagine, I don’t like it at all.

Google Tells FTC Enforcing “Hot News” Would Create a Hot Mess

July 22, 2010

Source: New York Times — July 21, 2010

The  Federal Trade Commission’s proposed “hot news doctrine” — legislation that would prevent others from reporting the same facts as a traditional publisher for a period of time after a news event — “would not only hurt free expression … [but] make it virtually impossible for aggregators such as Google News and Yahoo News to function the way they currently do, publishing excerpts from news stories without explicit permission from media outlets,” Google public policy director Pablo Chavez said.

The “hot news doctrine” would also partially cripple KurzweilAI’s news coverage. – Ed.

Read original article

July 16, 2010

Bush 43-era DoJ pursued obscenity cases over national security

Just wow.

From today’s Reason Alert:

Earlier in the trial, we learned the Bush administration actually diverted resources away from national security and onto the Stagliano case. Abowitz says, “After originally working on national security issues, [FBI Special Agent Daniel] Bradley testified, he was transferred to the obscenity desk and assigned to an already open investigation into Stagliano. How’s that for government priorities?”

For more on the actual trial, here’s a Reason article from today.

Did the FCC actually do something good here?

I’m pretty suspicious of government activity by default because all too often something that sounds both reasonable and sensible turns out to have a dank underbelly that undermines anything good in the action. Keeping that in mind this move by the Federal Communications Commission actually sounds like a good idea. Hard to believe I just typed that line.

From the link:

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously today to initiate a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeking comment on easing restrictions and paving the way for satellite spectrum to be used for land-based mobile broadband service. The move would be a significant step toward freeing up the 500 MHz of spectrum bandwidth by 2020 to meet growing wireless broadband needs.

The FCC proposes to change the rules for how satellite companies are allowed to use the Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) airwaves they control to spur more innovation in delivering mobile broadband spectrum. A second proposal from the FCC would allow satellite companies to relinquish MSS spectrum in exchange for a return of the profit when those airwaves are auctioned off.

FCC commissioner Michael Copps explains in a statement “As demands for speed and mobility increase, so does the demand for spectrum upon which mobile wireless broadband rides. Unfortunately, we can’t make any more spectrum, so we need to find ways to optimize our supply by expanding flexibility of use for licensees and improving efficiency through new and innovative technologies.

July 14, 2010

Cool computer technology — an invisible mouse

Via KurzweilAI.net — um, what’s to say here. This is just amazingly cool. Can’t say the tech is totally there from a user standpoint — one commenter mentioned the lag time would be disconcerting at this stage of technology — but the proof-of-concept is utterly amazing.

An invisible computer mouse

MIT Media Lab researchers have developed Mouseless, an invisible computer mouse that costs about $20 to build.

It uses an infrared (IR) laser beam and an infrared camera. The laser beam module creates a plane of IR laser just above the surface the computer sits on. The user cups their hand, and the laser beam lights up the hand that is in contact with the surface. The IR camera detects those bright IR blobs using computer vision. The change in the position and arrangements of these blobs are interpreted as mouse cursor movement and mouse clicks.

More info: Fluid Interfaces Group | MIT Media Lab

Here’s a video of the no-mouse mouse in action (feel free to ignore the attempt at cleverness with the Tom and Jerry cartoon intro.)

July 13, 2010

First Amendment-one, FCC-nil

Good Bill of Rights news out of a US appellate court today.

From the link:

A United States appeals court tossed out the indecency policy of the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday, calling it a violation of the First Amendment.

An appeals panel said the F.C.C. policy was “unconstitutionally vague, creating a chilling effect that goes far beyond the fleeting expletives at issue here.”

The ruling was immediately characterized as a victory for big broadcasters like ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, which have been fighting the indecency policy for years.

Tuesday’s ruling vacates a 2004 decision by the Bush administration F.C.C. to step up enforcement of the indecency policy on the broadcast airwaves. Earlier that year, the singer Janet Jackson’s breast was bared during the Super Bowl halftime show on CBS, reigniting a decades-old debate about broadcast standards.

No, we don’t need another IT acronym

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:35 am

This bit of linguistic and businessspeak stupidity comes courtesy of Computerworld‘s editor-in-chief:

The consumerization of IT is becoming a landslide, big enough to have its own acronym — I nominate “CoIT.” But I’m not sure many enterprises are all that aware of it.

He’s clearly out of his depth as an editor because that job entails making certain every word, sentence and graph in the publication is easily understood by the target audience. It does not entail creating unnecessary, and quite inelegant to boot, acronyms to add to the overflowing alphabet soup bowl that’s already out there and too firmly entrenched to do anything about.

It’s a shame because the article linked in the opening sentence is actually pretty good and covers an important topic — the use of consumer electronics in the business world. The story is almost fatally marred by the author’s repeated use of his made-up acronym. I can only assume he hopes the acronym catches on for personal satisfaction, because really it’s just too hard to come up with a few two or three word iterations on the phrase “consumerization of IT.”

July 12, 2010

YouTube supports 4K resolution video

Filed under: Arts, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:19 pm

Via KurzweilAI.net — to put that resolution in perspective, it doubles IMAX’s resolution.

Source: CNET News/Web Crawler — July 9, 2010

YouTube has announced that its player now supports 4k, a standard resolution for films that measures 4096×3072 pixels (requiring special equipment to view).

As YouTube Engineer Ramesh Sarukkai explained in the announcement on YouTube’s official blog, “4K is nearly four times the size of 1080p,” and it dwarfs even Imax, which projects films in the slightly smaller 2k format, with its 2048?1080-pixel resolution.

Read original article

July 9, 2010

Humanity as a giant superorganism

Filed under: et.al., Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:21 pm

Via KurzweilAI.net — Are we turning into the Borg? (just kidding, there.)

Technology is weaving humans into electronic webs that resemble big brains — corporations, online hobby groups, far-flung N.G.O.s, suggests author Robert Wright. “And I personally don’t think it’s outlandish to talk about us being, increasingly, neurons in a giant superorganism; certainly an observer from outer space, watching the emergence of the Internet, could be excused for looking at us that way…. If we don’t use technology to weave people together and turn our species into a fairly unified body, chaos will probably engulf the world — because technology offers so much destructive power that a sharply divided human species can’t flourish.”

Beautiful science image — microfluidic devices

Hit this link for an entire gallery of microfluidic devices.

“Combinatorial Mixer” shows a section of a tiny mixing device. It takes two fluids, dilutes them into four, then mixes them in every possible combination. The result is this mesh of color

Credit: Lab on a Chip/ Chris Sip and Albert Folc

From the link:

A Flikr group called “Art on a Chip” shows an artistic side to a hot area of technology: microfluidics devices. In the group a vibrant collection of images shows cells, channels and fluids on the micro scale. Researchers are encouraged to upload a favorite picture captured through their research, says the curator of the online collection, Albert Folch, an associate professor in BioMEMs and Microfluidics at the University of Washington.

“Our fields of research are bursting with art,” Folch says in his introduction to the website. “I am willing to bet that your hard drive contains at least one gorgeous image that will make me catch my breath.”

July 8, 2010

Citizen journalism v. traditional media

This University of Missouri study shows citizen journalism (read: bloggers, et.al.) is not filling the void created by the collapse of traditional media. In an ideal world the two complement each other to provide a more rich picture of what’s going on in the world. The reality is traditional media has done an absolutely terrible job of transitioning to the digital world and reacting to web 2.0 technologies, and now it’s being hammered by an incredibly weak economy. The end result? We all lose out in the long run. Maybe some new paradigm for professional journalism grows out of the media mess of the last ten years or so.

The release:

Citizen Journalism v. Legacy News: The Battle for News Supremacy

MU researchers say citizen journalism does not match void left by legacy news organizations

July 08, 2010

COLUMBIA, Mo. — A team of researchers from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and two other schools say that even the top 60 citizen websites and bloggers are not filling the information shortfall that has resulted from cutbacks in traditional media.

“While many of the blogs and citizen journalism sites have done very interesting and positive things, they are not even close to providing the level of coverage that even financially stressed news organizations do today,” said Margaret Duffy, associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism. “Not only do these blogs and websites lack the staff to adequately cover stories, but most citizen journalism managers do not have the financial resources and business experience to make their websites viable over time.”

Duffy collaborated with Esther Thorson, associate dean for graduate studies at the MU School of Journalism, and Mi Jangh, doctoral candidate at MU, along with others at Michigan State and North Carolina. The Pew and Knight foundations underwrote the research.

The researchers identified a number of factors including how much linking each website included, how much public participation they allowed or invited, how frequently news and content were updated, and whether the citizen websites provided contact information for the public.

Duffy says it is important to understand how citizen journalism and legacy news organizations co-exist. She believes it is critical that democracy have an effective journalistic presence. With many newspapers and broadcast news outlets struggling financially, she is concerned about the future of journalism.

“A strong democracy depends on vibrant, robust news coverage with informed citizens and voting public,” Duffy said. “If news media have to cut back and are unable to provide the same level of coverage for their communities that they did in the past, citizen journalism may need to step in. That is why it is important to examine what these websites need to do to improve and survive. “

Elements of the study were published in the Newspaper Research Journal as well as presented at the International Communication Association conference June 24 in Singapore.

–30–

July 6, 2010

Social media, mobile devices and GPS

Filed under: et.al., Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:44 pm

A pretty nasty privacy combination.

Sure many people willingly broadcast their whereabouts at all times via all sorts of social media, but I’m betting most people really don’t want their location tracked at all times. This is where the privacy issue comes into play and why the linked story should give everyone more than a little pause — even those who are giving the milk away for free so to speak.

From the link:

A study out this week from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) shows that mobile social networks are giving data about users’ physical locations to tracking sites and other social networking services. Researchers reported that all 20 sites that were studied leaked some kind of private information to third-party tracking sites.

“This initial look at mobile online social networks raises some serious concerns, but there is more work to be done,” said Craig Wills, professor of computer science at WPI and co-author of the study. “The fact that third-party sites now seem to have the capacity to build a comprehensive and dynamic portrait of mobile online social network users argues for a comprehensive way to capture the entire gamut of privacy controls into a single, unified, simple, easy-to-understand framework, so that users can make informed choices about their online privacy and feel confident that they are sharing their personal, private information only with those they choose to share it with.”

Think this issue is something of a nonstarter? Chew on this for a little while:

he researchers found that all 20 sites leaked some kind of private information to third-party tracking sites. In many cases, the data given out contained the user’s unique social networking identifier, which could allow third-party sites to connect the records they keeps of users’ browsing behavior with the their profiles on the social networking sites, the study said.

Mobile social networks track users’ geographic location by tapping into the data on the mobile devices.

The study noted that only two social networks directly gave location information to the third-party tracking sites, but several use a third-party map service to show the user’s location on a map. The study also reported that six different sites transmit a unique identifier to the user’s mobile phone, enabling third-party sites to continue to track a user’s location even as the phone is used for other applications.

Moonbase Alpha, a free online game from NASA

Filed under: et.al., Media, Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:01 pm

News very hot from the inbox:

NASA Takes Gamers on a Lunar Adventure With New Online Video Game

WASHINGTON, July 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — NASA has given gamers a taste of lunar adventure with release of Moonbase Alpha, an exciting new, free online video game.

(Logo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO)
(Logo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO)

The game has single and multiplayer options that allow participants to step into the role of an exploration team member in a futuristic 3-D lunar settlement. Players must work to restore critical systems and oxygen flow after a meteor strike cripples a solar array and life support equipment. Available resources include an interactive command center, lunar rover, mobile robotic repair units and a fully-stocked equipment shed.

The game is a proof of concept to show how NASA content can be combined with a cutting-edge game engine to inspire, engage and educate students about agency technologies, job opportunities and the future of space exploration. Moonbase Alpha is rated “E” for everyone.

It is the first game in NASA’s Learning Technologies project. The project supports the delivery of NASA content through interactive technologies such as virtual worlds, games and software applications to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, education.

Moonbase Alpha is a precursor to a planned NASA-based massively, multiplayer online game project. The project is being designed to have content and missions that require players to gain and demonstrate STEM knowledge to succeed.

NASA released the game on Valve’s Steam network. The agency will use the Steamworks suite of services for server browsing, leaderboards, statistics and more. Steam has more than 25 million accounts and has released more than 1,100 games. It was built on Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3. The Army Game Studio developed the game with support from Virtual Heroes, a division of Applied Research Associates in Research Triangle Park, N.C. This collaboration between NASA and the Army’s Aviation Missile Research Development and Engineering Center is an example of government agencies working together to improve education in the STEM fields.

For more information about Moonbase Alpha, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/moonbasealpha

For information about NASA’s education programs, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/education

For information about NASA and agency projects, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/

Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO
PRN Photo Desk photodesk@prnewswire.com
http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO
Source: NASA

Web Site:  http://www.nasa.gov/

July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth of July!

Celebrating the independence of the United States of America.

Enjoy …

July 3, 2010

KurzweilAI.net 2.0 launching July 5

Filed under: et.al., Media, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:06 am

Via KurzweilAI — Anyone who reads this blog even casually probably knows I use KurzweilAI as a source fairly often for futurism, and related, news items. This time it’s about KurzweilAI itself — a relaunched website next Monday.

KurzweilAI.net 2.0 launches July 5
KurzweilAI.net, July 1, 2010

KurzweilAI.net will launch a redesigned version of its Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence (KurzweilAI) website on Monday, July 5 at http://kurzweilai.net.

KurzweilAI 2.0 adds a blog and new sections for books, videos, films, TV shows, podcast directory, humor, free e-books, and news on Ray Kurzweil projects and affiliates, along with links to RSS feeds and the @kurzweilainews Twitter feed. Articles, authors, events, and forums sections have also been redesigned for easy browsing by topics, dates, and other methods.

The new website is based on WordPress, allowing for easier access to information, commenting on posts, and fast updating for breaking news and blog items. A new site-wide faceted search feature allows users to instantly find content in any of the more than 13,000 posts since 2001, based on topics and content types, in addition to “Google advanced search” style word and phrase searching.

Also included in KurzweilAI 2.0 is a completely redesigned and more powerful Ramona 4.0 chatbot, featuring multiple voice accents, variable personality (whimsical vs. nerdy), smarter chat engine, and natural-language front end to Powerset, providing access to Wikipedia and other information.

Newsletter subscribers will automatically receive a redesigned HTML newsletter offering fast access to original sources.

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